An abledbody news article last week discusses the new Kindle DX and it’s text-to-speech program that will read a book aloud. According to the abledbody article, the Kindle does not go far enough to provide an accessible player to persons with disabilities. The eBook menus and controls are not audio accessible, limiting access to those with visual disabilities. I’m not certain Kindle had persons with disabilities in mind when they created this new text-to-speech feature since it is not limited to those with disabilities. Kindle will work with Pearson, Cengage Learning, Wiley and 75 other University Presses to provide textbooks on the Kindle this year. Additionally, 3 newspapers have given Amazon the rights to text-to-speech content, NYT, Washington Post, and the Boston Globe. Sounds to me like the much broader market, with a potential to listen to books in the car, while walking, doing housework, or any other multitude of activities is what got Amazon tickled pink about text-to-speech. Just in case you didn’t hear, Kindle will begin a text book pilot program with 6 Universities this fall.
Being part of the Wright State University community has given me a whole new perspective on students with disabilities. Approximately 10% of our population is part of this community. It is very difficult for these students to get their textbooks and other course material in a format appropriate to their needs. That has just been made easier with the announcement of the U.S. College and University Partnership with Bookshare. Bookshare is the largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Their press release contains all the details of this new program. Text of this release is also below, click on more. Continue reading
Now here is a great use for eBooks - increasing access to traditional print textbooks for students with disabilities.
SOCHE, the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education received a grant to provide an online library of electronic textbooks to qualifying students at 12 institutions in Ohio. These electronic textbooks offer students with disabilities the chance to listen to the textbooks via screen reading software, increase the font size on computer screens, and probably lots of other things too. Things that were much more difficult or impossible to do with a print copy.
Prior to this collaboration, each school had to transfer the textbooks to electronic format. So the same textbook may have been transferred to electronic format 12 times. Now, only one copy is transferred and the 12 schools can share access to the title. For those of you thinking these students get free books, nadda. Each student still has to purchase a copy of the title, then they are given access to it electronically.
It would be great to make this a statewide, or even nationwide effort. Think of the money that could be saved. Do other universities or even public libraries participate in similar activities?
International Children’s Digital Library Unveils Breakthrough Enhancements
Unique Technology Significantly Improves Translation, Readability
Boston, MA (PRWEB) June 17, 2008 — The International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) Foundation (www.childrenslibrary.org), which is the world’s largest collection of children’s literature available freely on the Internet, today announced the completion and implementation of its ClearText technology which significantly enhances the translation and readability of the books available from the online library.
For easier reading of scanned books on a small screen, ClearText allows the user to simply click the desired text to display a magnified version of that text in place, or to read that page in a different language, the user just selects the desired language from a list under the page. The novel book reader technology was developed in-house at ICDL by Dr. Ben Bederson, library co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, working closely with a team from the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland.
|We are constantly working to expand the library and increase its relevance worldwide|
For the translation feature, children reading at the ICDL can select the language of their choice at the bottom of each page. As for readability, the text provided by the ClearText technology is sharper than before and will “pop out” to enlarge as needed. Text can even be read with a screen reader to support visually impaired readers. The book reader allows users to see a different version of the text in place and enables the text size to be changed or read aloud using a standard screen reader. It works by visually removing the text from the original image of the book, and then using the Web browser to display the text on top of the image of the book.
Additionally, the ClearText technology allows for users of the library to have increased options in selecting a language in which to read a book. For example, thanks to ClearText, Croatian author Andrea Petrlik’s moving book The Blue Sky is currently available in three languages. In addition to the technology improvements, a massive translation project is currently underway, being conducted by more than 1,200 online volunteer translators. Once a book is translated, there is a second review to validate the translation and ensure accuracy.
“We are constantly working to expand the library and increase its relevance worldwide,” said Executive Director of the International Children’s Digital Library, Tim Browne. “The ClearText application was developed specifically for the ICDL and makes it possible for more children from more countries to enjoy more books. We are delighted to unveil what we view as our most significant advancement to date.”